Good Grief: Unhappy Holidays

For most students, December signals two opposing concepts: Finals szn and the holidays.

I have a decoration in my apartment that lights up and says “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” My roommate and I put the Christmas and Hanukkah decorations up the night after Thanksgiving. It isn’t that we really celebrate these holidays, but we love decorating and making the apartment feel cozy for the wintertime.

Sometimes, I’m able to really appreciate the spirit. Other times, it’s hard to put on a smile.

There’s loss written all over the month of December for me and the holidays just remind grieving families of those who should be with us, but were taken too soon. The holiday vomit is overwhelming and it’s easy to forget how to cope with loss.

Last Christmas, I told my mom that I wanted to have a Christmas party. We planned it for December 23 – everyone would be home from school and could request off of work. We spent two weeks or so making sure it would be perfect, with food and games and of course, lots of alcohol.

Life had different plans. What was supposed to be a fun party turned into a crying fest because my mom told everyone in our family that she had terminal cancer. My grandma became an angry shell of who she was, leaving me to emotionally support my mom through her taxing journey. It was more responsibility than anyone should have, let alone at 19 years old.

My mom had as much fun as she could, knowing it would be her last. I watched her with a warm heart, embracing her smile and laughter as much as I could. This holiday season, I’ll be spending time remembering my mom and honoring our traditions – It’s bittersweet. It’s going to be difficult, but so many before me have made it through.

I only ask one thing of everyone this year: appreciate your family. They may be annoying, but you never know when it’s going to be your last Christmas together. Hug them, tell them how much you love them. Be curious about the past, be open to the future, and be kind.

For those of you struggling through this holiday season with the holiday vomit everywhere, take a deep breath. Remember your loved one but don’t let the grief suffocate you. Find some air to breathe, a quiet place to think, and a space to move forward: even if that means letting go just for a second.


May the end of your year be bright and the love be endless. Happy holidays everyone!


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